Roof Replacement: The Ultimate Guide for Homeowners 

It might be time to up your roof game.

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Shopping for a new roof isn’t cheap or especially fun, but it’s essential for maintaining a healthy home–and keeping your insurance premium down.

In fact, a roof’s age is one of a home’s biggest risk factors. In addition to threatening your property’s structural integrity, an old roof is generally much harder to insure.

While a typical homeowners policy will protect your roof from a variety of named perils, like hailstorms, water damage, fallen branches, etc., most insurance providers will generally not cover homes with roofs that are more than 20 years old. 

In this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about replacing the roof over your head.

Why roof maintenance is vital 

It might seem obvious, but your roof is pretty important. It’s not only one of the first impressions your house makes to the outside world but one of the first parts to be impacted by severe weather or natural disasters.

Although roof replacements generally aren’t covered by your homeowners policy— which won’t cover damages resulting from general wear and tear— a new roof will offer you more insurance protection in the event that a bad thing happens, and it can mean the difference between staying covered and struggling to find an insurance policy.

Keeping your roof up to date will show your insurer that you’re lower risk by demonstrating that you’ve been on top of your home maintenance checklist. If your roof were past its expected lifespan, most insurers wouldn’t renew an existing homeowners insurance policy, and you’d have a hard time securing coverage with a new insurer.

On the flip side, because it counts as a home improvement, a new roof could even lower your premium

But good roof maintenance doesn’t end with a replacement; you should still make sure your roof is free of any signs of wear and tear. As a rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to have a professional inspect your roof twice a year and immediately after any big weather event. 

Regular roof inspections are essential to good home maintenance
A roof that could use some TLC

How to inspect your roof for damages

A lot can happen to a roof. Knowing what kind of damage to look for and how to identify it will help you decide if and when it’s time for a replacement.

Weather is perhaps your roof’s biggest enemy. Wind, ice, and UV rays are especially threatening to its structural integrity. These effects can either strike all at once–in the case of, say, a big hail storm–or wear away at your roof slowly. UV exposure, for instance, accumulates over time, gradually breaking down the molecules in your shingles and eventually causing them to crack.

But big weather events and constant exposure to the elements are not the only things that can damage your roof. Common causes of wear and tear include overgrown trees, buildups of debris, and the presence of pests like rodents, termites, and birds. These threats are inevitable, no matter where you live, which is why you should replace your roof every 20 years or so.

When looking for evidence of damage, it’s important to examine your roof from multiple vantage points.

Here’s a checklist of everywhere you can safely check your roof without getting up there (for that, we recommend a roofer or gutter company):

  • From the ground: Is there anything up there that you can immediately see? Fallen branches, excess debris, and certain pests might all be visible from ground level.
  • Inside your home: What stains or water damages do you notice on your ceilings? Some of these leaks might lead back up to your roof.
  • In the attic: Are things feeling a little more exposed up there? Holes and potential leaks will be most visible in the part of your home that’s closest to the roof. Poor ventilation and insulation can also lead to a buildup of condensation in your attic that will eventually trickle up to your roof.

How to finance your roof replacement

There’s no way around it—the costs of a new roof can be overwhelmingly expensive. A roof replacement could set you back anywhere from $6,700 to $80,000, depending on where you live, how big your house is, and what kind of roof you’re installing. 

Still, there are several ways to soften the blow to your wallet. Let’s break them down.

Here are some common options for roof financing:

  • Roof loan: A kind of personal loan, roof loans enable you to pay in monthly installments without requiring any collateral (i.e., an asset that you use to get approved for a loan). They’re a great option for getting cash fast, but you’ll need good credit to get approval and excellent credit for the lowest interest rate.
  • Home equity loan: A home equity loan also allows you to pay off your roof in installments, but without needing a high credit score. However, home equity loans take longer to get approved and require you to use your home as collateral. 
  • HELOC: Essentially a credit card, a HELOC (an acronym for Home Equity Line of Credit) is a faster way of getting cash than a home equity loan, and monthly payments are generally lower because repayment terms can be up to 20 years. As with a home equity loan, you must use your home as collateral. 
  • Cash-out refinancing: This option enables you to refinance your mortgage by paying off your old loan with a larger one and using the difference to cover your roof replacement. The monthly rates for cash-out refinances are generally lower than all of the other roof financing options, but approval can take awhile.
  • Home renovation loan: If you don’t meet the credit or equity requirements for the other loan options, you may be eligible for a loan through the Federal Housing Administration. FHA loans enable you to refinance your home, adding the roofing costs to your new payment plan. It can also take awhile to get approved for home renovation loans.
  • Credit card: Opening a new credit card is an easy way to get fast funds for a new roof, but it requires excellent credit. And, although your credit card company might offer 0% APR for the first 12 to 18 months, interest rates can rise dramatically after that. This should only be an option if your roof replacement is relatively inexpensive.
  • Through your roofing contractor: Your roofing company may provide several options for financing your replacement, including personal loans and credit cards. If you have good credit, your contractor may offer you the first six months at a 0% interest rate or even six months with 0% interest and no payments at all. 

Before committing to any of these financing options, make sure to shop around for the lowest interest rates and the most reputable contractors. 

Some plans, like home equity loans and cash-out refinances, will also require you to get a home appraisal as part of your application. And, if you aren’t fast approaching your roof’s expected lifespan, it may be worth building up your credit and then replacing your roof. 

Selecting the right roof material

Make sure to choose the right roof material
An aspirational slate roof

In addition to making a financial plan, you’ll need to decide what kind of roof you want. Maybe you’re drawn to classic asphalt shingles, or perhaps you’re ready to spring for a stunning slate roof that will stand the test of time.

 A new roof is hardly a casual purchase, so it’s important to know what’s out there. We’ve compiled a list of some common roofing materials to consider. 

Here are some of the most popular kinds: 

  • Asphalt shingles: Asphalt is the most common roof type around, no doubt because it also happens to be the most cost effective. Asphalt shingles are also easy to install and repair. If you go for asphalt, you’ll have to decide between 3-tab shingles and architectural shingles. 3-tab shingles are cheaper, while architectural shingles–as their fancier name implies–are more expensive. They’re thicker, more durable, and more wind-resistant, not to mention a bit better looking. 
  • Standing seam metal: Made of a series of metal panels, this roof type lasts much longer than asphalt roofs but costs two to three times as much.
  • Composite shingles: Built from recycled materials, composite shingles are made to resemble more extravagant wooden or slate roofs. They’re eco-friendly and very durable but still much more costly than asphalt shingles.
  • Tile: Tile roofs come in clay or cement, both of which are extremely long-lasting. Clay tiles are more aesthetically pleasing than cement, but they can get pricey. Another advantage to tile roofs is that you can reuse some of the original tiles in a replacement so long as they aren’t damaged.
  • Slate: Slate roofs are the premiere roof option. They’re sturdy and beautiful, but quite a bit more expensive than any other roof type.

When you’re deciding on a roof type, you should also take your homeowners policy into consideration. 

Because they’re so durable, slate and metal roofs tend to yield lower premiums. Meanwhile, wooden roofs generally aren’t insurable because they’re not fire-resistant.

Timing your roof replacement

Once you’ve decided to replace your roof, you’ll need to do some planning to schedule your replacement for a convenient time.

Roofing companies are often booked up for weeks in advance, especially during busy seasons like the fall.

You should plan your replacement around the season and climate–moderate temperatures are generally ideal for roof installments. For this reason, fall is usually peak roofing season; however, spring is a good (and lower-demand) alternative if you can avoid extreme weather.

If you’re looking to replace your roof during the summer or winter, beware of how extreme temperatures can affect roofing materials. Asphalt shingles, for example, are difficult to install in high temperatures, while cold temperatures can sometimes prevent roof sealants from setting.

And, as soon as you’ve got your new roof, make sure to update your insurance company with proof of installation. It just might save you some money!

A few quick words, because we <3 our lawyers: This post is general in nature, and any statement in it doesn’t alter the terms, conditions, exclusions, or limitations of the policies issued, which differ according to your state of residence. You’re encouraged to discuss your specific circumstances with your own professional advisors. The purpose of this post is merely to provide you with info and insights you can use to make such discussions more productive! Naturally, all comments by, or references to, third parties represent their own views, and Lemonade assumes no responsibility for them. Coverage may not be available in all states. Please note that statements about coverages, policy management, claims processes, Giveback, and customer support apply to policies underwritten by Lemonade Insurance Company or Metromile Insurance Company, a Lemonade company, sold by Lemonade Insurance Agency, LLC.  The statements do not apply to policies underwritten by other carriers.

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Please note: Lemonade articles and other editorial content are meant for educational purposes only, and should not be relied upon instead of professional legal, insurance or financial advice. The content of these educational articles does not alter the terms, conditions, exclusions, or limitations of policies issued by Lemonade, which differ according to your state of residence. While we regularly review previously published content to ensure it is accurate and up-to-date, there may be instances in which legal conditions or policy details have changed since publication. Any hypothetical examples used in Lemonade editorial content are purely expositional. Hypothetical examples do not alter or bind Lemonade to any application of your insurance policy to the particular facts and circumstances of any actual claim.